Archive for April, 2008

Are you writing at a snail’s pace?  Are you stopping short of making your deadlines?  Are you still not meeting your goals?  What’s it going to take at the end of the day to have completed what you said you were going to do? 

Try a fast, easy adjustment — making a small change can sometimes have a good effect.  Let a quick-fix jolt in you into action. 

Here are 3 quick-fixes that are truly Smart Tips: 

1.  Put your dissertation on your Desktop.
How many clicks does it take, for you to get your writing up on your screen?
Make it easy to get to your work!  At the same time, lessen the possibility of getting distracted by another file or (Quelle horreur !) email.

2.  Be a good boss.
You’re the manager for your writing project, so act like one.  Decide how much of one hour you work.  A 52-minute hour sounds good to me.  Work 52 minutes and get an 8-minute break. 

One of my relatives, who is coaching his son’s first team sport, told his son, “While we’re practicing and playing, you can call me Coach or Mr. ______, but not Daddy.”  His son smartly said, “O.k., Coach.” 

When you’re writing or on a break, call yourself Boss and listen to that Wise Person within that you’re addressing as Boss.

3.  Plan your breaks.
What are you going to do during each break? Make sure the break refreshes.  Sitting down in front of yet another “Law and Order” or “The View” will not refresh.  Take it from me, TV is addictive and exhausting.  Go there and you’ll regret it! Instead take a shower and wash your hair. Or see how far you can walk in 4 minutes. At 4 minutes, turn back in order to be at work when the “boss” starts to look for you.

A colleague told me yesterday that her coach told her to “get out of your own big, fat way.”   How about you?  Do you need to get out of your own big, fat way?  To get into action fast, it’s time to get serious.  Put one of these Smart Tips into use today.  Try just one quick fix and say to yourself, “Thanks for that tip, Boss.  I needed a change.”

I have more Smart Tips for you.  I’m just about ready to send out my Smart Tips newsletter.  I think you’ll enjoy it – the lead article in this issue is “5 Strategies for Drastic Situations.”

Go to my website at www.nancywhichard.com, and underneath my picture on the home page, sign up for Smart Tips.

My very best to you,


Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach



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Writing this blog for the past year has been an act of joy for me. 

Many of you also write blogs, and so if you blog frequently, I would wager that you, too, find writing for your blog compelling.

I get to write about something I know, about a process that intrigues me and that is always a challenge, and for people that I respect and that I am sure I would find interesting. That’s a recipe for engagement or flow.

Having a good idea of what matters to your audience and wanting to write for that audience because you revere or feel empathy for them and have much in common with them can be huge motivators. 

When I have other things in my life keeping me from writing this blog –and this month has been full of interference– I feel a bit off-center. I miss the feeling of connection that the blog gives me.  

Writing my newsletter, however, is more difficult, primarily because I write it much less often, certainly not the two times a week I typically write this blog. Writing less frequently makes it more challenging.  Also, I don’t have as clear a view of my readership for my newsletter as I do of the readership for this blog.
What I’m suggesting is that you can make your writing call to you.  To do that, you not only want to feel connected to your writing, but you would also benefit from expanding your feelings of loyalty, gratitude, and caring curiosity for your audience.  Here are some suggestions:

1. Make your writing irresistible to you– write often.
Writing as often as I can keeps me (and you, too?) connected to the work.  Writing frequently always helps me to return easily to the work. 

2.  Don’t let excuses stop you from writing—write first.
Even if I have other things happening in my life, I can make time to write my blog by giving the first 20 to 30 minutes of my writing day to my blog.  Write first is what I tell my clients, and I need to listen to that suggestion myself. 

3.  Know your audience’s expectations and needs as intimately as possible.
Having clarity about my readers’ experiences gives me a sense of what they know and what they may need to know.  Connecting with my audience drives my writing and makes it easier to anticipate my readers’ expectations and responses.  How could you write more specifically for your advisor?  How could you let your audience drive your writing?

4.  Draw often and deeply on resources that can help you to know your audience better.
Because of my working daily with dissertation clients, I have a depth and breadth of specific resources that I can tap into, and I check what I know against those resources on a daily basis.  What resources do you draw on for guidance in writing for your primary reader?

I have a favor to ask of you.  It would be great if you would go to my website (www.nancywhichard.com) and sign up for my Smart Tips newsletter.  It would make writing the newsletter more compelling for me if I knew you were part of the readership.

The next edition is ready to go out.  I think you’ll enjoy the lead article in this issue –it’s “5 Strategies for Drastic Situations.”

Below my picture on my web site’s home page (www.nancywhichard.com), you’ll see the box to sign-up for Smart Tips.  Easy, no obligation sign-up!

My very best to you,


Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach


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Curiosity is a boon to dissertation writers, except when it isn’t.

Curiosity is indeed powerful, giving us the will to explore, to persevere, and even to reach a goal.

I’ve suggested in an earlier blog (“To Enjoy Writing Your Dissertation, Use your Curiosity”) that it might be worth your while as researchers and writers to try to increase your curiosity.  Talking with someone about your work or forming a supportive alliance with a coach or a colleague will very likely engage your curiosity.

The more control you have over your work and the more engaged you feel in your work, the more likely it is that you will feel free to be curious.

But can curiosity ever be too much of a good thing?

I have noticed lately that many of my dissertation and writing clients have curiosity as either their first or second strength.  If you haven’t taken the Values in Action (VIA) Signature Strengths Questionnaire at www.authentichappiness.org, you might be interested (curious?) in discovering what your Signature Strengths are.

One terrific client with whom I talk weekly says that he can spend too much time getting “too into” something, past the point where it’s beneficial.

He gets stuck in the analysis of his data.  He can find himself running his data in a hundred different ways, rather than the couple of different ways that had been his intention.  This is a problem because he said that he knew he’d get what he needed from just those two ways.

To prevent himself from going overboard or getting too into the analysis, it seems to me that he needs to ask himself what he’d do if he had a bag of Fun-Sized Snickers staring at him within arm’s reach!  Most of us couldn’t stop at eating just 2, and so we’d have to put the bag away or we’d regret it.

Is your curiosity so strong that it almost holds you hostage, urging you to keep looking for more paths, more possibilities?  If you want to move your work forward, then you have to remove yourself from the temptation.  My client’s plan was to curb his curiosity, as best he could.  He decided he could go to a graduate computer lab and take just the results of his analysis on a flash drive. He not only committed to the plan, but he would also make it hard to back out.  He would go public and tell someone his plan.

Can your curiosity get you into trouble?  Do you sometimes have to keep your curiosity in check?  I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Spring!

My very best to you,


Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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Curiosity is a powerful strength and is a great strength to cultivate if you are writing your dissertation.

Curiosity gives you:
• the will to explore,
• the will  to stay with an idea,
• the will to persevere,
•  the will to reach a goal,
• and it also gives you joy in the process.

If you have trouble moving into a project or if you are easily distracted, try to engage your curiosity.  Engaging your curiosity can help you get started on your writing and then can help you stick with it.

Most people are curious to some degree.  The amount or force or extent of curiosity can vary widely from person to person.  For curiosity to drive your writing or research or to empower you in your dissertation process, you might want to experiment with some possible ways to crank it up.

Researchers don’t appear ready to tell us definitively how to develop the strength of curiosity in an adult.

But since everyone is at least a little bit curious, there are steps you can take that will make it possible for your curiosity to flower.

At the top of my list as possibilities for increasing curiosity are
• increasing your autonomy,
• taking more control of a project,
• taking a risk.

Other strategies for arousing your curiosity are
• asking questions,
• having someone to talk to about your work,
• having someone to support you and give you feedback.

Asking yourself questions or working with someone who is curious and who will ask questions of you should be a first step in your effort to increase your curiosity.

If you’re interested in talking to someone about your work, let me know!  And go to my website (www.nancywhichard.com) to sign up for my Smart Tips e-newsletter.

Here’s to cranking up your curiosity!


Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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